A number of popular ‘long-lasting’ sunscreens may not be providing the coverage they claim as they wear off within hours a consumer watchdog has warned.
Four leading high street brands which bill their sunscreen as ‘once a day’ products have allegedly been found to wear off to the extent that their sun protection factor falls by 74 per cent after six to eight hours. This means that over the course of a day a SPF30 ‘once a day’ cream could drop to SPF8 coverage.
The four sunscreens tested by Which? were Soltan Once Invisible 8hr Sun Protection SP30, Piz Buin 1 Day Long SPF30, Riemann P20 Once A Day Sun Protection SPF30 and UltraSun Family SPF30.
The consumer watchdog conducted the trials on the products using British Standard tests, whereby the creams were applied to the backs of volunteers who then spent a day sitting on a chair in laboratories wearing a t-shirt. After six to eight hours (depending on how long the product claimed to last) the creams’ sun protection capabilities were then retested.
Alex Neill, Which? Director of Policy and Campaigns, said: ““Our testing shows that these sunscreens just don’t live up to their ‘once-a-day’ claims so people should reapply sunscreens regularly to ensure they have protection from the sun.
“With more than 100,000 people diagnosed with skin cancer in the UK each year, some manufacturers need to do more to ensure their sunscreens live up to the claims on the packaging.”
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Lisa Bickerstaffe, British Skin Foundation spokesperson, told The Independent that anyone exposed to strong suns should be vigilant about reapplying creams, regardless of claims. She said: “When considering once-a-day sunscreens, it’s worth remembering that swimming, sweating or sporting activity can all cause it to wash or wipe away. With this in mind, the British Skin Foundation believes that all sunscreens should be reapplied at least every two hours or after any sporting or swimming activities.”
Abi Cleeve, from Ultrasun UK, told The Independent: “We understand that there are many opinions on once a day claims and these are wholly dependent on the specific formulation of individual products.The Which? findings on the performance of once a day category products has taken an average across the four brands tested. We are confident in the independent tests carried out on Ultrasun. It’s important that the industry is responsible in its communication of what long lasting broad spectrum protection can mean. Ultrasun delivers a UVA filter of over 90% for the product tested by Which?.
“In addition to our robust formula, everyone at Ultrasun always advises our customers to choose their sun product responsibly based on their own skin type, and to ensure that time in the sun is punctuated with regular shade breaks rather than long uninterrupted exposure. With a shelf life of 2 years after opening against an industry average of 12 months we continue to offer our customers great value for money in using Ultrasun from year to year.”
A spokesperson for Boots said on behalf of Sultan: “At Boots, customer safety is paramount and we rigorously and independently test our products to ensure the appropriate level of safety and efficacy. We are confident that all of our sun care products, including Boots Soltan Once 8 Hour Sun protection SPF30, meet the SPF labelling claim and customers can rely on them to provide the level of protection expected over the specified time frame.
“It is expected that the level of SPF in any ‘once a day’ sun protection will reduce throughout the day. This is why we formulate Boots Soltan Once 8 Hour Sun Protection SPF30 to a higher level of SPF so that our customers can be confident it will not reduce below SPF 30 and they will get the right level of protection for a full eight hours. In addition we always advise our customers to enjoy the sun safely and we recommend re-applying any sun protection after spending time in the water or towelling dry.”
Dr Chris Flower Director-General of Cosmetic Toiletries and Perfumes Association, told The Independent: “Which? has set up its test for ‘extended wear’ products very strangely. Manufacturers test products in circumstances related to normal or expected use. We normally apply sunscreen to areas of skin that will be exposed to the sun but we don’t apply sunscreen to areas that will remain covered under clothes. Exposed areas will not be subject to rubbing against a t-shirt for six to eight hours, so we feel this is unrealistic as a test and we believe the criticisms from Which? are not justified.”
Piz Buin did not respond when approached for comment by The Independent.
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